Structure-Based Virtual Screening and In Vitro Evaluation of New Trypanosoma cruzi Cruzain Inhibitors.
ABSTRACT: Chagas disease (CD), or American trypanosomiasis, causes more than 10,000 deaths per year in the Americas. Current medical therapy for CD has low efficacy in the chronic phase of the disease and serious adverse effects; therefore, it is necessary to search for new pharmacological treatments. In this work, the ZINC15 database was filtered using the N-acylhydrazone moiety and a subsequent structure-based virtual screening was performed using the cruzain enzyme of Trypanosoma cruzi to predict new potential cruzain inhibitors. After a rational selection process, four compounds, Z2 (ZINC9873043), Z3 (ZINC9870651), Z5 (ZINC9715287), and Z6 (ZINC9861447), were chosen to evaluate their in vitro trypanocidal activity and enzyme inhibition. Compound Z5 showed the best trypanocidal activity against epimatigote (IC50 = 36.26 ± 9.9 ?M) and trypomastigote (IC50 = 166.21 ± 14.5 ?M and 185.1 ± 8.5 ?M on NINOA and INC-5 strains, respectively) forms of Trypanosoma cruzi. In addition, Z5 showed a better inhibitory effect on Trypanosoma cruzi proteases than S1 (STK552090, 8-chloro-N-(3-morpholinopropyl)-5H-pyrimido[5,4-b]-indol-4-amine), a known cruzain inhibitor. This study encourages the use of computational tools for the rational search for trypanocidal drugs.
Project description:Chagas disease causes ~10,000 deaths each year, mainly in Latin America, where it is endemic. The currently available chemotherapeutic agents are ineffective in the chronic stage of the disease, and the lack of pharmaceutical innovation for Chagas disease highlights the urgent need for the development of new drugs. The enzyme cruzain, the main cysteine protease of Trypanosoma cruzi, has been explored as a validated molecular target for drug discovery. Herein, the design, molecular modeling studies, synthesis, and biological evaluation of cyclic imides as cruzain inhibitors are described. Starting with a micromolar-range cruzain inhibitor (3a, IC50 = 2.2 ?M), this molecular optimization strategy resulted in the nanomolar-range inhibitor 10j (IC50 = 0.6 ?M), which is highly active against T. cruzi intracellular amastigotes (IC50 = 1.0 ?M). Moreover, most compounds were selective toward T. cruzi over human fibroblasts, which were used as host cells, and are less toxic to hepatic cells than the marketed drug benznidazole. This study enabled the discovery of novel chemical diversity and established robust structure-activity relationships to guide the design of optimized cruzain inhibitors as new trypanocidal agents.
Project description:Chagas disease (CD) is a neglected disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which affects underdeveloped countries. The current drugs of choice are nifurtimox and benznidazole, but both have severe adverse effects and less effectivity in chronic infections; therefore, the need to discover new drugs is essential. A computer-guided drug repositioning method was applied to identify potential FDA drugs (approved and withdrawn) as cruzain (Cz) inhibitors and trypanocidal effects were confirmed by in vitro and in vivo studies. 3180 FDA drugs were virtually screened using a structure-based approach. From a first molecular docking analysis, a set of 33 compounds with the best binding energies were selected. Subsequent consensus affinity binding, ligand amino acid contact clustering analysis, and ranked position were used to choose four known pharmacological compounds to be tested in vitro. Mouse blood samples infected with trypomastigotes from INC-5 and NINOA strains were used to test the trypanocidal effect of four selected compounds. Among these drugs, one fibrate antilipemic (etofyllin clofibrate) and three ?-lactam antibiotics (piperacillin, cefoperazone, and flucloxacillin) showed better trypanocidal effects (LC50 range 15.8-26.1 ?g/mL) in comparison with benznidazole and nifurtimox (LC50 range 33.1-46.7 ?g/mL). A short-term in vivo evaluation of these compounds showed a reduction of parasitemia in infected mice (range 90-60%) at 6 h, but this was low compared to benznidazole (50%). This work suggests that four known FDA drugs could be used to design and obtain new trypanocidal agents.
Project description:Chagas disease, Human African Trypanosomiasis, and schistosomiasis are neglected parasitic diseases for which new treatments are urgently needed. To identify new chemical leads, we screened the 400 compounds of the Open Access Malaria Box against the cysteine proteases, cruzain (Trypanosoma cruzi), rhodesain (Trypanosoma brucei) and SmCB1 (Schistosoma mansoni), which are therapeutic targets for these diseases. Whereas just three hits were observed for SmCB1, 70 compounds inhibited cruzain or rhodesain by at least 50% at 5??M. Among those, 15 commercially available compounds were selected for confirmatory assays, given their potency, time-dependent inhibition profile and reported activity against parasites. Additional assays led to the confirmation of four novel classes of cruzain and rhodesain inhibitors, with potency in the low-to mid-micromolar range against enzymes and T. cruzi. Assays against mammalian cathepsins S and B revealed inhibitor selectivity for parasitic proteases. For the two competitive inhibitors identified (compounds 7 and 12), their binding mode was predicted by docking, providing a basis for structure-based optimization efforts. Compound 12 also acted directly against the trypomastigote and the intracellular amastigote forms of T. cruzi at 3??M. Therefore, through a combination of experimental and computational approaches, we report promising hits for optimization in the development of new trypanocidal drugs.
Project description:Inhibition of the Trypanosoma cruzi cysteine protease cruzain has been proposed as a therapeutic approach for the treatment of Chagas' disease. Among the best-studied cruzain inhibitors to date is the vinylsulfone K777 (1), which has proven effective in animal models of Chagas' disease. Recent structure-activity studies aimed at addressing potential liabilities of 1 have now produced analogues such as N-[(2S)-1-[[(E,3S)-1-(benzenesulfonyl)-5-phenylpent-1-en-3-yl]amino]-3-(4-methylphenyl)-1-oxopropan-2-yl]pyridine-4-carboxamide (4), which is trypanocidal at ten-fold lower concentrations than for 1. We now find that the trypanocidal activity of 4 derives primarily from the inhibition of T. cruzi 14-?-demethylase (TcCYP51), a cytochrome P450 enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of ergosterol in the parasite. Compound 4 also inhibits mammalian CYP isoforms but is trypanocidal at concentrations below those required to significantly inhibit mammalian CYPs in vitro. A chemical-proteomics approach employing an activity-based probe derived from 1 was used to identify mammalian cathepsin B as a potentially important off-target of 1 and 4. Computational docking studies and the evaluation of truncated analogues of 4 reveal structural determinants for TcCYP51 binding, information that will be useful in further optimization of this new class of inhibitors.
Project description:Cruzain, the major cysteine protease of Trypanosoma cruzi, is an essential enzyme for the parasite life cycle and has been validated as a viable target to treat Chagas' disease. As a proof-of-concept, K11777, a potent inhibitor of cruzain, was found to effectively eliminate T. cruzi infection and is currently a clinical candidate for treatment of Chagas' disease.WRR-483, an analog of K11777, was synthesized and evaluated as an inhibitor of cruzain and against T. cruzi proliferation in cell culture. This compound demonstrates good potency against cruzain with sensitivity to pH conditions and high efficacy in the cell culture assay. Furthermore, WRR-483 also eradicates parasite infection in a mouse model of acute Chagas' disease. To determine the atomic-level details of the inhibitor interacting with cruzain, a 1.5 A crystal structure of the protease in complex with WRR-483 was solved. The structure illustrates that WRR-483 binds covalently to the active site cysteine of the protease in a similar manner as other vinyl sulfone-based inhibitors. Details of the critical interactions within the specificity binding pocket are also reported.We demonstrate that WRR-483 is an effective cysteine protease inhibitor with trypanocidal activity in cell culture and animal model with comparable efficacy to K11777. Crystallographic evidence confirms that the mode of action is by targeting the active site of cruzain. Taken together, these results suggest that WRR-483 has potential to be developed as a treatment for Chagas' disease.
Project description:A multi-step cascade strategy using integrated ligand- and target-based virtual screening methods was developed to select a small number of compounds from the ZINC database to be evaluated for trypanocidal activity. Winnowing the database to 23 selected compounds, 12 non-covalent binding cruzain inhibitors with affinity values (K i) in the low micromolar range (3-60 µM) acting through a competitive inhibition mechanism were identified. This mechanism has been confirmed by determining the binding mode of the cruzain inhibitor Nequimed176 through X-ray crystallographic studies. Cruzain, a validated therapeutic target for new chemotherapy for Chagas disease, also shares high similarity with the mammalian homolog cathepsin L. Because increased activity of cathepsin L is related to invasive properties and has been linked to metastatic cancer cells, cruzain inhibitors from the same library were assayed against it. Affinity values were in a similar range (4-80 µM), yielding poor selectivity towards cruzain but raising the possibility of investigating such inhibitors for their effect on cell proliferation. In order to select the most promising enzyme inhibitors retaining trypanocidal activity for structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies, the most potent cruzain inhibitors were assayed against T. cruzi-infected cells. Two compounds were found to have trypanocidal activity. Using compound Nequimed42 as precursor, an SAR was established in which the 2-acetamidothiophene-3-carboxamide group was identified as essential for enzyme and parasite inhibition activities. The IC50 value for compound Nequimed42 acting against the trypomastigote form of the Tulahuen lacZ strain was found to be 10.6±0.1 µM, tenfold lower than that obtained for benznidazole, which was taken as positive control. In addition, by employing the strategy of molecular simplification, a smaller compound derived from Nequimed42 with a ligand efficiency (LE) of 0.33 kcal mol(-1) atom(-1) (compound Nequimed176) is highlighted as a novel non-peptidic, non-covalent cruzain inhibitor as a trypanocidal agent candidate for optimization.
Project description:Gallinamide A, originally isolated with a modest antimalarial activity, was subsequently reisolated and characterized as a potent, selective, and irreversible inhibitor of the human cysteine protease cathepsin L. Molecular docking identified potential modifications to improve binding, which were synthesized as a suite of analogs. Resultingly, this current study produced the most potent gallinamide analog yet tested against cathepsin L (10, Ki = 0.0937 ± 0.01 nM and kinact/Ki = 8?730?000). From a protein structure and substrate preference perspective, cruzain, an essential Trypanosoma cruzi cysteine protease, is highly homologous. Our investigations revealed that gallinamide and its analogs potently inhibit cruzain and are exquisitely toxic toward T. cruzi in the intracellular amastigote stage. The most active compound, 5, had an IC50 = 5.1 ± 1.4 nM, but was relatively inactive to both the epimastigote (insect stage) and the host cell, and thus represents a new candidate for the treatment of Chagas disease.
Project description:Trypanosoma cruzi and Trypanosoma brucei are parasites that cause Chagas' disease and African sleeping sickness, respectively. Both parasites rely on essential cysteine proteases for survival: cruzain for T. cruzi and TbCatB/rhodesain for T. brucei. A recent quantitative high-throughput screen of cruzain identified triazine nitriles, which are known inhibitors of other cysteine proteases, as reversible inhibitors of the enzyme. Structural modifications detailed herein, including core scaffold modification from triazine to purine, improved the in vitro potency against both cruzain and rhodesain by 350-fold, while also gaining activity against T. brucei parasites. Selected compounds were screened against a panel of human cysteine and serine proteases to determine selectivity, and a cocrystal was obtained of our most potent analogue bound to cruzain.
Project description:Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease caused by the flagellated protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The current drugs used to treat this disease have limited efficacy and produce severe side effects. Quinolines, nitrogen heterocycle compounds that form complexes with heme, have a broad spectrum of antiprotozoal activity and are a promising class of new compounds for Chagas disease chemotherapy. In this study, we evaluated the activity of a series of 4-arylaminoquinoline-3-carbonitrile derivatives against all forms of Trypanosoma cruzi in vitro. Compound 1g showed promising activity against epimastigote forms when combined with hemin (IC50<1 ?M), with better performance than benznidazole, the reference drug. This compound also inhibited the viability of trypomastigotes and intracellular amastigotes. The potency of 1g in combination with heme was enhanced against epimastigotes and trypomastigotes, suggesting a similar mechanism of action that occurs in Plasmodium spp. The addition of hemin to the culture medium increased trypanocidal activity of analog 1g without changing the cytotoxicity of the host cell, reaching an IC50 of 11.7 ?M for trypomastigotes. The mechanism of action was demonstrated by the interaction of compound 1g with hemin in solution and prevention of heme peroxidation. Compound 1g and heme treatment induced alterations of the mitochondrion-kinetoplast complex in epimastigotes and trypomastigotes and also, accumulation of electron-dense deposits in amastigotes as visualized by transmission electron microscopy. The trypanocidal activity of 4-aminoquinolines and the elucidation of the mechanism involving interaction with heme is a neglected field of research, given the parasite's lack of heme biosynthetic pathway and the importance of this cofactor for parasite survival and growth. The results of this study can improve and guide rational drug development and combination treatment strategies.
Project description:Cruzain, an essential cysteine protease of the parasitic protozoan, Trypanosoma cruzi, is an important drug target for Chagas disease. We describe here a new series of reversible but time-dependent inhibitors of cruzain, composed of a dipeptide scaffold appended to vinyl heterocycles meant to provide replacements for the irreversible reactive "warheads" of vinyl sulfone inactivators of cruzain. Peptidomimetic vinyl heterocyclic inhibitors (PVHIs) containing Cbz-Phe-Phe/homoPhe scaffolds with vinyl-2-pyrimidine, vinyl-2-pyridine, and vinyl-2-(N-methyl)-pyridine groups conferred reversible, time-dependent inhibition of cruzain (Ki* = 0.1-0.4 ?M). These cruzain inhibitors exhibited moderate to excellent selectivity versus human cathepsins B, L, and S and showed no apparent toxicity to human cells but were effective in cell cultures of Trypanosoma brucei brucei (EC50 = 1-15 ?M) and eliminated T. cruzi in infected murine cardiomyoblasts (EC50 = 5-8 ?M). PVHIs represent a new class of cruzain inhibitors that could progress to viable candidate compounds to treat Chagas disease and human sleeping sickness.